Written for the Kill Them Off/Save Their Life competition in which I had to kill of Albus Severus. Also written for the Winners Galore competition.
This story is written in the order it is meant to be read; however, for the sake of some of you who like to know what order it really goes in, and for those of you who re-read it chronologically, the roman numerals are included to show you the order in which the story occurs.
Feedback is appreciated.
Scorpius had always known that some people die at seventeen. It was one of the unfortunate facts of life; too young and far too cruel, but it happened regardless.
Up until now, he'd always thought it had been one of those things that wouldn't happen to people he knew.
Tears fell from the sky on the day of his funeral. The grey clouds wept for the years Albus had never got to enjoy; the years they'd never got to enjoy. And Scorpius was glad the heavens cried, because he couldn't. His grief remained lock within himself, unable to poor forth in a public showing of grief.
That didn't mean he couldn't feel it.
"Let's go to Hogsmeade!" Albus exclaimed, tugging on Scorpius's wrists. "Come on, don't make me go on my own!"
"I thought we'd decided to spend today studying," Scorpius pointed out, amused. It was so like Albus to say he'd study and then just not do it.
It was also very like him to coerce Scorpius into joining him.
"But I didn't know the weather would be like this!" Albus gestured broadly out the window. Even Scorpius had to admit that the weather was beautiful; there were no clouds, the sun was bright, and the almost stifling heat was cooled by the lightest of breezes.
"Great," he said blandly, "I'll fail my exams and I'll get sunburnt."
He didn't really mean it, and Albus knew this because he laughed lightly at Scorpius's words – a deep throaty laugh that never failed to make Scorpius want to join in. "Always the pessimist, aren't you?" he asked. Suddenly he grasped Scorpius's hand and pulled him forcibly from the chair he was sitting in. "Come on," he said, dragging the blond out of the common room. "You won't fail, and you're not making me go by myself."
"Hold on," Scorpius yelped, trying to wrest his hand from Albus's grasp. "At least let me put my homework away!" But as he turned and scooped up his books, he couldn't help but smile.
She walked past him after the funeral was over, as everyone filed out of the room. He saw her as she walked slowly down the aisle, her moist eyes as red as her hair. And Scorpius had never hated anyone more in his life.
It should have been her, he thought cruelly. Because if it hadn't been for her, Al would still be alive.
It hadn't been fair exchange at all.
"It's too crowded in here!" Albus shouted at him over the harsh noise of the bar. It seemed every student in Hogsmeade had decided to stop for lunch at the Three Broomsticks to escape the heat; it helped that they had a new range of cold beverages (including the Morning Frost Butterbeer spinoff, which actually turned the drinker to ice for about ten seconds). It was delicious, but could only be consumed on the warmest days for risk of frostbite.
"I can't hear you!" Scorpius shouted back. Beside them there was a table full of goblins having an argument and Scorpius eyed them nervously. Last time he'd observed goblins fighting in a bar, they'd broken almost every chair in the place in the ensuing brawl. And now that magical creatures were starting uprisings all over the place… well, it didn't take a lot to set things off, these days. Needless to say, Scorpius was keeping a close eye on the angered creatures.
"I said let's-" Albus shouted back at him, but his words were drowned out by a loud cheer from a group of fifth-years sitting not too far away. "Oh, never mind," Albus muttered, and grabbed Scorpius's hand and led him from the pub.
"What were you saying?" Scorpius asked when they escaped the noise into the scorching heat that was the outside world.
"I said it was too crowded," Albus told him dryly.
"Agreed," Scorpius said. "Let's go somewhere else."
"Where?" asked Albus. "I never thought I'd say this, but ever since Abeforth died last year, the Hogshead…"
"Has gone majorly downhill?" Scorpius suggested for him, when it was apparent Albus couldn't find the words to phrase his complaint.
"Yeah," Albus said. "Who would have thought that bar could get dirtier."
"There's always Madam Puddifoot's," Scorpius said with a smirk.
"Great idea," Albus said without a trace of irony in his voice. "Let's go."
"Al, I was joking," Scorpius said incredulously.
"I think we should," Al said seriously. "It's like a rite of passage or something. Every long-term couple goes to Madam Puddifoot's at some point during Hogwarts. Let's do it."
"But then," Scorpius said hesitantly, "won't people… you know… know?"
"Ashamed that we're together?" Albus asked lightly, but there was a hidden tenseness behind his words.
"No," Scorpius said quickly. "It's just… we're not exactly telling people, are we?"
"But we're not not telling people either," Albus pointed out.
The corner of Scorpius's mouth twitched up ever so slightly. "True," he conceded. Then a full-blown grin broke out across his face. "Would you like to accompany me to the teashop, good sir?" he asked, speaking in a posh voice and holding out his arm in a gentleman-like fashion.
"You are most kind," Albus said, not able to hold back a laugh as he took the offered hand in a similar manner.
Too young. Too soon. Too him.
"More uprisings," Albus said over breakfast as soon as he opened the paper.
Scorpius glared at his cereal as though the small grains of puffed wheat had caused the bad news. "How bad?" he asked.
"Really bad," Albus sighed. "Five people killed in riots in Springden. Homes destroyed by giants in Norwich. Attack on Ministry premises all over the country – unknown number of people dead and injured."
"Anyone we know?" Scorpius asked. He hoped that, if it had been a relative of either of theirs, they would have been notified before they read it in the morning paper.
Then again, you never could tell with the Ministry these days.
Albus shook his head. "I don't know; they haven't released the names yet. Oh! But they've got in here a list of injured and dead from the battles last week!"
"And…?" Scorpius prompted as Albus's eyes scanned the list speedily.
"Nope," the other boy said relieved.
"Why is the Ministry so useless?" Scorpius burst out suddenly, startling a first year who'd just slid into the spot close to him. The frightened girl hastily moved in the other direction before grabbing her toast. "Surely it can't be that hard to start giving them equal rights so that these things don't happen!"
"I know," Albus said, quickly looking around the hall before gently laying a hand on Scorpius's arm. "I know. But I don't think it's as simple as that-"
"Yeah right," Scorpius snorted angrily. "People are dying in these riots. What's simpler than that?"
She had a sprained wrist and a temporary scar. They were the only lasting reminders Lily was left with, afterwards. It shouldn't be possibly; she was standing right by him, and he'd died.
But somehow, that's what happened. She traded an injured wrist and a cut for the life of her brother.
"Come on, come on," Albus said impatiently.
"Relax," Scorpius laughed. "We've got all day."
"I know," Albus said, coming up behind him and resting his head on Scorpius shoulder. "But I want to spend that time with you. Not waiting for you to pick your damned clothes."
Scorpius leaned his head back and shut his eyes as Albus started kissing his neck. "Don't you want me to look my best"?" he murmured. "To pick nice clothes to wear for you?"
"To be honest," Albus said, breathing in the scent that was pure Scorpius, "I think you look best when you wear absolutely nothing." He grinned into Scorpius's shoulder.
"That could be arranged," Scorpius laughed.
"Scorpius Malfoy," Albus said, whirling him around so he could rest his forehead on that of his boyfriends. "If you try and leave here naked, I can guarantee that you will not get out that door, and we will spend the rest of today in these dorms – most likely in your bed."
Scorpius lightly kissed Albus's lips and pulled away. "I'd better get some clothes on, then," he said. "I know how much you desperately want to go to Hogsmeade." He pulled on the next shirt he grabbed and led Albus out the door.
Albus grumbled disappointedly for the next five minutes about how Scorpius was a tease, but he soon forgot about it.
After the funeral, Albus's father approached Scorpius. He didn't want to exchange pleasantries with Mr Potter (or, far more likely, to be told he'd ruined the funeral with the speech he gave for Albus). He didn't care what anyone thought, though; he just wanted to curl up in Albus's bed, amongst the rumpled, unmade sheets, and smell what was undeniably Albus's smell.
Albus's smell… which was now mixed with just a hint of his own, because of the amount of time he'd spent in there with him.
He'd never have a proper reason to be in that bed again.
"Thank you," Mr Potter said, and Scorpius blinked up at him, surprised. "Thank you for what you said about my son… and about the ministry. I wish I could have said as much." His voice was bitter, but dimly Scorpius realised the anger wasn't directed at him.
"I thought you'd be unhappy with me," he said stupidly. He couldn't think of anything else to say.
"Not with you," Mr Potter replied kindly. "You did more for Albus than anyone else here. You've made him happier than I've ever seen him, this past year you've been together."
The surprise somehow managed to pierce the thick curtain of grief draped over him, muffling the world. "You… you knew?" he asked.
Mr Potter smiled sadly. "I have about a hundred nieces and nephews attending Hogwarts," he replied. "Of course I knew. I just wish Albus had told me."
When Scorpius doesn't reply, Mr Potter nods at him in an understanding way and wanders off.
Scorpius wonders if there's a dementor somewhere close by.
If one showed up now, he doubted he'd even notice.
They were laughing together in Madam Puddifoot's when they first got wind of it. It started with the loud noise of many simultaneous apparitions. An odd noise, to be sure, but it was not a particularly out of place one, or a threatening one. Plenty of people might have cause to apparate in a group; groups of shoppers, for example.
"Hey, are those Ministry officials?" Albus asked half a minute later, pointing out the window. Scorpius followed his boyfriend's gaze and sure enough, there were several people in what were definitely Ministry uniforms striding through Hogsmeade, wands out, directing people and knocking on the doors of houses and shops. A feeling of unease came over him.
"I think we'd better go see what's happening," Scorpius said.
"You're right," Albus agreed, standing up quickly, their half-filled cups forgotten on their table. "We might be able to help."
They walked quickly out of the shop and almost ran straight into a frantic-looking Auror. "You kids need to get out of here," he said quickly. "Go back up to the castle."
"What's happening?" Albus asked quickly.
"All civilians are being evacuated," the Auror said. "We've received tip off of a massive planned attack on Hogsmeade."
Albus swore. "Can we help?" Scorpius asked quickly.
"Get up to the school," the Auror said again. "Tell the teachers to come down here. And take any students you find with you!" And then he was off, hurrying into the closest shop.
"Come on," Albus said, grabbing Scorpius's hand. "You heard him…"
They made their slow way back up to the castle. Slow, because they ran into quite a few students along the way, all of whom they collected and took with them until it looked like they were herding a flock of very humanoid sheep.
They just made it out of the village when a fourth year gasped and pointed into the distance at a very large figure stomping towards the village. "What is that?" a frightened third-year asked.
Albus and Scorpius exchanged a grim look. "Giants," they said simultaneously.
Albus had joked about skipping Hogsmeade in favour of sex, the morning that he died. Maybe if Scorpius hadn't shrugged him off… maybe he'd still be alive.
He was expected to give a speech. Everyone knew that he was Albus's best friend – he had been since they boarded the train when they were eleven years old and somehow wound up sharing a compartment. Some people even knew that they were more than friends – although that number was a lot smaller.
He was expected to talk about Albus's life and what he meant to Scorpius and everyone who knew him and why it was such a tragedy that Albus had died so young.
In that respect, he met all expectations.
But it took most people by surprise when Scorpius screwed up his written eulogy partway through and glared at the ministry officials in the crowd, looks of fake remorse on their face.
"Albus Severus Potter was my best friend," he told the assembled audience, many of whom were sobbing quietly. "I loved him more than anyone else in the world." They could make of that what they would; he didn't care any longer. "And he was murdered. He was murdered by a lot of people, some of whom are here."
There was silence, and then a brief muttering as his words sunk in. A teacher sitting a few rows back made to get up, as though to pull him from the stage. Scorpius's hand slipped into his robes to touch his wand reassuringly; he'd been practicing the charm that would chain him to this podium. He was not going until he had his say.
"I won't say who they are," he said, loudly and clearly over the mutterings. "They know who they are. You know who they are as well. Because although no one says it, they killed Al as much as the rioting creatures did." His voice broke a little, but he swallowed and carried on, determined. "So if you're wearing Ministry robes to this funeral… I want you to have a think.
"No matter what your reason is for prolonging this civil war, just remember you're paying for it in lives and blood." He saw a couple of high-up Ministers shift in their seats and look away from him. "Keep your eyes on me," he said sharply. "And more importantly, keep your minds on the body lying in that casket up there. Give the centaurs back their fucking forests, because you didn't have a reason for taking them. Give the merpeople their lakes and the giants their mountains and the house-elves the specifically tiny amount of freedom that they want and the goblins their wands. Or just don't, and keep killing innocents like Albus and little Ellie Hallsworth and the dozens of names that are published in the prophet every week."
Finally, he saw where the Minister of Magic was sitting, staring up emotionlessly at Scorpius. Scorpius made eye-contact as he finished his speech and he thought that everyone at the service probably knew that he was speaking to him directly. "Because as far as I'm concerned, Minister," he spat the word out like it was poison. "You killed the boy behind me."
Then, just as his Head of House came bustling up the aisle, intent on removing him from the stage, he turned to look at the still body of Albus in the casket.
"Goodbye," he whispered.
But Albus wasn't in there. It was just an empty shell.
They were almost up at the castle when the brightly-lit form of a leopard appeared and came bounding down the path. Some of the younger students pulled back in fright, but Scorpius recognised it instantly. "A patronus?" he asked, confused. Al looked at him, the same expression mirrored on his face. "What…?"
His question was soon answered when the patronus opened its mouth and began to talk in frantic tones that Scorpius recognised instantly. "Albus, Scorpius," Rose's voice said quickly, and Scorpius can hear the panic she must be fighting back. He doesn't even question that he's included in the message, because to find one of them would be to find the other. That's just how things were. "Almost all the students are safe in the school; we're only missing fourteen now, including you two. But Hugo and Lily aren't here. The teachers won't let anyone out of the castle now we're in. You need to find them!"
Albus and Scorpius looked at each other. Hugo was with them; he'd helped round up some of the third-years they'd collected. But Lily…
Scorpius did a quick head-count. Sure enough… "Eleven," he said quietly to Albus. "Plus the two of us makes…"
He didn't even need to say it. Albus was already sprinting back down the path towards the village in the distance – which, by the looks of it, the giants had reached. "Hugo," Scorpius said quickly, "get everyone up to the castle. Now."
And then he was running after Albus, running faster than he'd ever run before.
Rose wasn't angry at him either, after the funeral. He was angry at her, though; he was angry at everyone. But he didn't let it show.
"Hello, Scorpius," she said softly, and all he could think was, Why did you have to send that patronus?
"How are-" she broke off with a humourless laugh. "Actually, don't answer that. It's a stupid question; I don't know why people ask it."
"Because they can't think of anything better to say," he suggested.
Rose watched him sadly. "It'll get better, you know," she told him. "In time."
"Will it?" he asked bitterly. "People keep saying that. I'm only seventeen. I'll find someone else." Rose looked stricken, but he continued. "I don't think I will, though. You might have more cousins, Rose, but I only had one of him." And then he walked away, not caring how deep his words might cut or how much they might hurt.
He wished the whole world hurt like he did. Let's see them give him useless, demeaning condolences then.
"Ooh, let's go into Zonko's," Albus said eagerly, forcibly pulling Scorpius into the shop.
Scorpius laughed. "Your uncle owns the largest branch of trick-shops in Europe and you want to come in here?" he asked. "Typical you."
"They have some stuff my uncle doesn't," he said defensively. "And it's much cheaper."
"You get their stuff for free!"
It was bad; he saw that as soon as he reached the village, panting heavily. Only five minutes ago they'd rounded up the last of the students and walked out of the untouched collection of shops and houses; now five shops were on fire and three had been smashed by a giant. A fourth one was quickly joining them.
He ducked sideways into a shop as a band of goblins passed, and wished they had the invisibility cloak. He poked his head out and scanned the street; where was Albus?
He heard a high-pitched scream and ran towards it, not caring that the band of goblins probably saw him. That hadn't been Albus, but he was fairly sure that it had been Lily.
It had come from off the main street, but it didn't take long to spot her cowering behind the side of a house. He ran towards her just as the giant rounded the corner and spotted her.
Things happened very disjointedly, and he seemed to notice the oddest things. He immediately saw that he wasn't close enough to get to her in time, although he kept running, shooting spells at the giant as they did so. They all bounced off.
He noticed that the house he was running past had paint peeling from the door. How odd, he thought to himself. Most people repaint their front doors when they get a little worn.
He couldn't see them, but he could hear the shouts of Aurors behind him, and a curse flew past his ear. Still, he kept running.
And then Albus was there, standing between the giant and his sister, wand drawn and eyes fearless. Scorpius felt that feeling of wrongness again, the one he'd first got when he'd seen the Auror in the street.
And then, miraculously, the giant flew off its feet and soared, blasted backwards by the force of what must have been a very powerful spell. Scorpius skidded to a halt and looked over his shoulder. At once, he realised that it hadn't been a single spell; the Aurors were standing in formation, wands outstretched. It had been a single spell done by about ten different wizards.
Scorpius waited hesitantly, but the giant didn't move. It was unconscious.
He started towards Albus again – more slowly this time. The danger had passed.
He couldn't remember how close he was when it happened. He can't have been too far away, because he remembered being by the boy's side in an instant. Maybe he'd just run extremely fast.
He paused as the sound of two pairs of hooves echoed down the street. He looked around and instantly saw, in the opposite direction to the giant, two centaurs, arrows knocked, pointing not at the Aurors but at Lily – fifteen year old Lily.
He let out a cry of warning, one that somehow Albus must have understood because he whirled around and saw the situation immediately.
Scorpius could remember this in perfect clarity; he doubted he'd ever forget. If he somehow managed to, though, he knew it would be waiting for him when he closed his eyes. But he could live to be a hundred and fifty and he'd never understand what happened next.
He was holding a wand. Albus was holding a wand – and he was brilliant wizard. Yet instead of casting a shield charm, or magicking something to block the arrows, he calmly put his hand on Lily's shoulder and spun her around so that she was behind him.
Scorpius heard the twang of the bowstring and looked at Albus, his cry caught in his throat. Because Albus's piercing green eyes were staring straight at him – into him – and he could not look away. There was no fear in his expression, just…
And then, somehow, Scorpius was by his side as he lay bleeding on the ground. "A centaur never misses their target," he remembered someone telling him once. Or maybe he read it in a book.
And those centaurs had aimed to kill.
"And so may his body be consumed by the flame," the droning man said. "And may his ashes return to the earth that nurtured him. And we must hope that, in death, his spirit finds peace…"
Scorpius tuned him out.
What did his words matter? Albus was gone.
He didn't know when the Aurors reached him. It can't have been long; Albus was still breathing.
"He can't be apparated in that condition," the woman who approached him said. "I'll have to carry him up to the castle."
Scorpius was already conjuring a stretcher.
"Stop glaring, Al," Scorpius laughed.
"They're snogging," Albus said pointedly. "It's ungentlemanly to kiss her like that in public."
"To be fair," Scorpius said, amused, "she's giving as good as she gets."
"He's snogging my sister," said Albus. "It's not right."
Scorpius just rolled his eyes. "Come on," he said. "I need new quills." And he dragged Albus away before the other boy could do anything that would be too embarrassing for Lily.
"Scorpius…" His voice was so faint…
"Save your energy," Scorpius said, running by the stretcher as he tried not to jolt it.
"Almost there," Scorpius lied.
There was something in his voice that made Scorpius halt. "But... the castle…" he said as he lowered Albus to the ground.
"Not gonna make it," Albus whispered. "You know that."
Scorpius did know. But he didn't want to admit it.
"I don't want to die… like I'm riding a horse…" Albus coughed, "Your levitation… is shocking…"
"You try running and levitating," Scorpius told him. His vision was blurry, and he could only hope that he was dying too. He didn't want to live on his own.
"Scor…" This time when Albus coughed, there was blood. "A favour?"
A sob burst from Scorpius's throat. He gently wriggled over so he could place Albus's head in his lap. He gasped in pain as he was moved, but once settled, he smiled up at him happily. Which was ridiculous; how could he be happy?
"It's going dark, Scor," Al whispered. "I can't see you."
"It's okay," Scorpius whispered. "Feel me." He gripped Albus hand tightly.
"I… feel you…"
"I love you so much, Al." He had to say it; this could be his last chance.
"I know. Love you… too…"
"You're beautiful, you know that? And brilliant. And all those times I said you were distracting me so much that I'd fail my exams… I don't care. I hope I do fail, because it was worth spending time with you." He was babbling now; he didn't even know what he was saying. He was saying anything and everything.
Scorpius fell silent to listen, but there were no more words to follow.
They found him like that, once it was over. Scorpius cradling his head, his salty tears on both their faces.
They told him later he was still telling Scorpius irrelevant things, like it was okay to wear two different patterned socks.
"You love me, right?"
"Of course I do. Why do you even ask?"
"Oh, we're in Madam Puddifoot's. It seems like the appropriate conversation. And I wanted to check."
"Because." A pause. "I love you too, you know."
"I know," Scorpius replied.
Across the table, their hands found one another's.